ATO returns to campus following suspension

Photo by Danielle Sisson

Following disciplinary suspension due to events that transpired in the spring of 2017, the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) has been allowed to resume all normal activities.

Previously, the fraternity was on disciplinary suspension through August 2018. After a series of appeals and the creation of a strategic recovery plan, their suspension has been truncated and the fraternity is now permitted to resume all academic, philanthropic and social activities.

On March 9, 2017, an officer of the Georgia Tech Police Department was called to the ATO house in response to a possible fight. Upon investigation during that night and the following days, the officers discovered that the altercation involved two fraternity brothers who had a verbal quarrel over a group messaging app that escalated into one brother pounding on the other’s door with two knives and threatening to
stab him.

In the following weeks and months, several more investigations took place, including an internal judicial review conducted by the fraternity. The Undergraduate Judiciary Cabinet of the Office of Student Integrity (OSI) also conducted a series of interviews in order to determine if the Student Code of Conduct had been violated.

Based on the events that transpired in March, OSI determined that the fraternity was responsible for “behavior that endangers any person(s), including self.” They were placed on disciplinary suspension beginning on Aug. 25, 2017 and were to remain on suspension until Aug. 3, 2018.

It was at this point that the fraternity appealed OSI’s ruling. They first appealed to Dean John Stein, vice president of student life, who upheld the decision handed down by OSI. The fraternity then went through a second appeals process, which was heard by Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson.

ATO’s chapter executives partnered with a board of trustees, made up of alumni as well as the national headquarters, in order to come up with a “multi-year strategic plan for rehabilitating our fraternity and changing our chapter culture.” This plan included changes and updates to policies of recruitment, risk management, new member education, bystander education training, officer and organizational leadership training and chapter advisor training.

This plan announced a partnership with a business called Plaid that would aid them in improving their chapter culture. The document also detailed which officer positions would require the selection of a new individual, and exactly what procedures would be used for processes such as recruitment and new member education.

Additionally, the board of trustees related that “the member in question that brought danger to another member of our fraternity by threatening that member with a knife will be expelled from membership effective immediately,” and that a new president would also be vetted before election by the chapter in the
coming months.

Their plan, which was submitted to Peterson at the end of October last year, concluded with requested sanction modifications. It was asked that the fraternity’s suspension would not continue until August of 2018 but would conclude in December of 2017 and that the fraternity would be allowed to recruit new members and resume activities the following spring.

Peterson determined that the case would be remanded back to OSI for further review of the strategic plan.

On Nov. 9, 2017, OSI stated in a letter to the fraternity that while they were still found in violation of the student code of conduct, they would conclude their suspension on Dec. 15, 2017, and would remain on disciplinary probation until May 11, 2018. Chapter leadership is also required to meet with members of Tech’s Greek Affairs Office.

Chapter leadership did not respond to requests for comment.